I know I don’t fit perfectly into what people expect from a transgender guy. I’ve never had crippling dysphoria. I do occasionally enjoy painting my fingernails and dying my hair. I have no desire to get bottom surgery. Yet, these are all reasons for others to doubt my transness.
If there’s one thing I think we all should agree on, is that humans are complicated creatures. It’s practically impossible to lump any single person into a neat category or box. We’re all uniquely different in our own way. That’s what makes the world so interesting.
Yet, we’re constantly trying to shove people into boxes and make them conform to some stereotype, even if we don’t consciously mean to do so. Unintentional categorization is something we all do, and most people try to correct themselves when presented with facts. People can learn to expand their thinking, and I believe most are willing to. However, there is a small subset of the population that thinks there’s only one right way and they stubbornly cling to that viewpoint, regardless of any facts they are presented with.
I have long contended that I don’t have any dysphoria, although that’s not entirely true. The reason why I have said that in the past was because so many of my transgender brethren have severe, almost crippling dysphoria. It leads them to severe bouts of depression, anxiety, and in some cases suicidal ideation. It’s why for them, transitioning is literally a matter of life or death.
My dysphoria is far milder, which is why it’s taken me a lot longer to even recognize that I have it. Over all the decades that I’ve looked in the mirror at my body, I’ve mostly shrugged and gotten on with my day. I’ve never liked my body, especially after puberty, but it’s never caused me any great upset. I was always frustrated with how curvy and lumpy my body is.
When puberty hit, I could no longer wear clothes from the boy’s department like I had. They just didn’t fit my curvy, feminine shape. I tried dieting myself back to my previous shape, but no matter how much weight I lost, the curves persisted. So, I just accepted that was my new reality and learned how to find unisex styles of clothes in the girl’s department instead.
Although my dysphoria was mild, I still hated things about my body, such as my breasts, hips, thighs, and especially my voice. Not only was it overly feminine, it was high pitched and made me sound very young. Well into my thirties, people on the phone assumed I was a child and would ask to speak with my parents.
Regardless, while I hated a lot of things about my body, I never let them get in the way of living my life. I never thought there was any possibility of being able to become male (at least not without a lot of surgery). The fact my dysphoria is milder than most, and that I probably could have gone the rest of my life without transitioning, doesn’t make me any less trans.
My Feminine Traits
My gender identity and expression may be mostly male, but I know I still have a few tendencies that are considered stereotypically feminine. That’s not to say that men cannot exhibit these tendencies, but it makes some people question my innate transness.
Some of my more feminine traits stem directly from the fact I was never socialized as male. I was never admonished for showing my emotions, nor was I ever told to take it like a man when I had some difficulty in life. Therefore, some of my behavior is viewed as more feminine.
I spent most of my adult life going to nail salons getting my nails done and coloring my hair, and I still do so. I recently spent a year with purple hair before tiring of maintaining the color and dyeing it back to brown. I know among the younger generation this is more acceptable for boys and young men to do, but not as much in my generation. This has also led some people to question my identity as a transgender man.
In addition, there seems to be quite a lot of confusion that, while I’m transitioning to male, I am only attracted to men. I think because of some famous transgender men like Chaz Bono, who first came out as lesbian before coming out as trans, there’s an assumption that all transgender men are only attracted to women. I have always been attracted to men, never to women.
This has led some people to ask why I would bother transitioning, because now most men will not find me attractive. Their thinking seems to be, if I was already born female, why in the world would I want to transition to male, if it wasn’t so I could start dating women? People don’t understand that gender identity and sexuality are not related.
All these stereotypical feminine traits do not make me any less trans.
I Don’t Want That Surgery
It seems a common assumption that because I’m transitioning to male, that I would want all the surgeries that possibly would go with it. While I want top surgery — which includes the removal of my breasts, the construction of a more masculine chest, and nipple grafts — I have no interest in bottom surgery. There are a few bottom surgery options, including metoidioplasty, phalloplasty, scrotoplasty, and possibly also a vaginectomy.
I have never had any dysphoria regarding my genitals, so I have no interest in any of those surgeries. I’ve never had any great desire to have a cisgender-sized penis, which is what a phalloplasty would give me. Testosterone is growing my clitoris into a micro-penis and that’s more than adequate for my personal preferences and desires.
My lack of desire for male genitalia does not make me any less trans.
I am Trans Enough
My point with this article is to say that transgender people all experience being trans in their own way. People love to judge others for not being good enough. Based on their thinking, some women aren’t feminine enough, some men aren’t masculine enough, some non-binary people aren’t androgynous enough, and some transgender people aren’t trans enough. We need to stop forcing people into these artificial boxes. Gender, like sexuality, is much more fluid and complex than we have been taught. It’s time for us to open our minds and let people identify and express how they see themselves.
I am trans enough. You are trans/non-binary/feminine/masculine enough. We are all enough.